The ground beetle fauna (Coleoptera:Carabidae) of abandoned fields, as related to plant cover, previous management and succession stage

Original Paper


This study describes differences in species richness, diversity and composition of Carabidae in gradients from recently abandoned, non-grazed fields over stages of overgrowth into forest on formerly agricultural land in a large, sandy outwash plain, south Sweden. Totally 80 pitfall traps, (4 succession stages, each represented by 4 sites; 5 traps per site) installed on 29 March 2006 were emptied continuously until 1 November. Succession stages were: 7–10 y old fallows after cereals with thin and low vegetation of small perennial and annual herbs (Ia), 7–10 y old fallows abandoned as lay with a rich plant cover of broad-leaved grasses and herbs (Ib), 20–25 y old fallows with a shrub layer of colonising pine and narrow-leaved grasses (II), and ca 80 y old pine stands planted on originally cultivated ground with a rich shrub layer but lacking herbaceous plants (III). A total of 14,068 individuals of 71 carabid species were captured. Species richness was highest in stage Ib, whereas Shannon species diversity was highest in Ia. Both species richness and diversity were lowest in III, sites II being intermediate. Total number of individuals captured site−1 was low in III, being highest in Ib. Mean body weight and total dry mass of species, however, increased with succession stage. Amara and Harpalus species were most common in Ia but important also in Ib, with large differences in species composition between the two stages. These genera were almost lacking in III, where Carabus spp. and Pterostichus niger dominated. The share of Calathus was highest in II, where C. fuscipes played a dominating role. P. versicolor dominated in Ib, whereas P. lepidus was quite common in all non-forest stages. Duration and intensity of capturing activity necessary to find most species of the sites are discussed. Many scarce or rare species in south Scandinavia were captured, mainly in Ib. Abandoned non-grazed fields are important hibernating and breeding refuges for many carabids. Using extensive and non-expensive management this ought to be considered as an additional alternative in environment conservation policy, which now usually recommends economically subsidised grazing on set-aside land.


Body weight Environmental conservation Habitat properties Old field Sand Soil fertility Species diversity Species richness Sweden 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EcologyLund UniversityLundSweden

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